The Good and the Beautiful – Pre-K

When we started school last July (2017,) I had planned kindergarten curriculum for my daughter that was exactly the same as what I had used with my son. Then, I made a discovery… my daughter is not my son. Shocking… I know. 🙂 Being my first attempt at homeschooling 2 kids at the same time, I quickly realized there was a steep learning curve. It was immediately evident that they didn’t learn the same way and that she had some gaps in her learning (thanks morning all day sickness…) I needed to take a step back and reevaluate my choices.

The first thing I did was put all formal learning on hold. She didn’t know letters and numbers consistently, and she showed no interest in learning them. Some days where great. Some days I could show her the letter T twelve times and the thirteenth time it would be an E. Argh. I did lots of research about waiting till kids are older, even 7, to introduce reading and formal education. Once I convinced myself that I wasn’t a bad mom and I wasn’t failing my kid, I decided to take a break.

While she was on a break, I started researching what curriculum I wanted to use. It was hard for me to admit that my educational philosophy wasn’t working for my kid. (This is where I think former teachers struggle the most… I want everything to look like I think it should in my head!) My daughter needed something colorful and hands-on with lots of activities. She learns best listening to music and standing on her head.

Enter: The Good and the Beautiful.

blank realistic spiral notepad notebook isolated on white

Thanks to the YouTube subscriber who introduced me to this curriculum! I’d never even heard of it before… probably because it’s only been around for a couple of years. The moment I saw the website, I was hooked. First of all, Jenny Phillips (the creator… and no relation to me…) provides Levels 1-5 (basically 1st -5th grade) of Language Arts for FREE. Who does that? And, it’s crazy good. I checked out the kindergarten level and knew immediately that it was way too advanced for my daughter. I desperately wanted her to be there, but she just wasn’t, and I knew we would both be frustrated. (The Good and the Beautiful has an excellent placement test. Check it out.) I looked at Pre-K and realized it was really more her speed. The lessons were short, colorful and included cute hands on activities. And, it was inexpensive. (Can I get an Amen?!?)

The Good and the Beautiful always has 3 purchase options: 1) PDF only 2) Physical Copy Only or 3) Physical Copy and PDF. There is an option for every budget and “assembly required” level. I chose the physical copy only. It came with a full-color, spiral-bound course book, activity pack and flip books. It is beautiful. (Seriously, check out the samples. TGTB puts out a TON of sample pages for you to review.) It started out super gentle and my daughter loved it. The activities are engaging, fun and super simple to do. There is little prep work and everything is laid out in the course book. It was exactly what we needed.

Pre-K

Pre-K is recommended for ages 3 and up, and can certainly be used with older kiddos who need some confidence building. If you are looking for a hands-on, open-and-go, inexpensive Pre-K curriculum, I would HIGHLY recommend The Good and the Beautiful! If you want a quick “real life” glimpse of the curriculum, check out my video review! I also shared how I store all of the activities and set up her bin… then you don’t have to listen to my type! 🙂

Stay tuned for our journey the The Good and the Beautiful Primer.

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Beginning Before Five in a Row (B4FIAR)

When my oldest was preschool age, I was working full time. We enrolled him in preschool 2 mornings a week, and I set off to develop a preschool curriculum for my mom to do with him on his off days. That lasted about two weeks. (The curriculum development part, not preschool… he loved that.) I have great planning skills, just not always great executions skills. 🙂 I was too busy working full time to create and prep my own preschool program. No harm done, he’s now almost 9, and I don’t think we’ve ruined him yet. If anything, I would have told myself to relax and just enjoy my 3 year old.

When my second kiddo was preschool age, I was no longer working, but I was dealing with a medically complicated third child. We spent more time at doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions than I ever imagined any of my children would. We were fortunate that it was nothing really major, but it caused upheaval in our lives. (If you are a mama that IS dealing with something life threatening or life altering, my heart goes out to you. It’s SO hard to watch your children struggle. I really can’t imagine.) Anyway, learning letters with my preschooler definitely took a backseat. She wasn’t crazy into learning, and I didn’t push it. Probably no harm done, she’s almost 6, and I feel like we’re playing a little catch-up, but she’s finally excited about learning and things are clicking fast.

My third just reached preschool age. Actually, she was 3 in the fall, but as I mentioned before, is a bit more complicated than the first two. Between about 9 and 18 months old, she had basically no development, physical or otherwise. We went to a million appointments, ran a million tests, answered a millions questions and got zero answers. It’s just who she is. With a great team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and a couple encouraging siblings, she is almost on track with her peers. (Yeah!) When she turned 3, I thought we were years from any sort of formal education with her, but a recent burst of language has proven otherwise. Everyday it’s, “I do cool work too, mama?” And how can your resist a 3 year old and “cool” work?!?

I knew I needed something different for her. She isn’t ready for the academic track my other 2 are on, but I couldn’t just make it up as I went along. (I couldn’t do that with 1 kid, I certainly can’t do it with 4!) I looked at a number of options and everything still seemed just a little advanced for her. I needed a gentle introduction. I had heard the Five in a Row program mentioned all over various Facebook groups and homeschool forums, but never really investigated the program. In all honesty, it just didn’t seem to fit my style. But I decided to take a look at the Before Five in a Row program that is specifically designed for children ages 2-4+ and is meant to preserve the early years that are so important for exploration and learning through play. The whole concept is story based which is perfect for H. If there’s anything she loves more than crackers (seriously… they are everywhere!) it’s a book!

Before Five in a Row Book Cover

Before Five in a Row (B4FIAR) focuses on one book for one week (or more if you choose.) You read that book each day and do different activities to promote language development, science, math, art appreciation, etc. The activities are only intended to lay a foundation for education and provide variety to the parent and child, not present a rigorous academic curriculum. The manual includes suggested activities for each book as well as a section for general learning activities. It is simple and charming, but H really loves it. Of course, you can also click on over to Pinterest and find 15 million more activities you can do for each book! I’m really trying to avoid the Pinterest-hole and keep my activities to a minimum. We are also planning to “row” each book for at least 2 weeks. This gives us the necessary flexibility to be successful without “mom overwhelm”. I created a simple checklist as a guide for each book and to help me keep my expectations in check.

B4FIAR Goodnight Moon

My goal is to share each book we row and some of the activities that we did alongside it. I hope our journey will be helpful for you as you seek to educate your little ones! If you want to check it out for yourself, you can download the Goodnight Moon lesson for free here.

Day 1… Done!

We survived the first day of school! It’s a super hot and crazy windy July day here, so what better to do than sit in the air conditioning and do school. Today was the first day I really felt like I was schooling 2 kids. My oldest started 1st grade (or maybe 2nd… I don’t really know) and my middle is an official preschooler. (And my youngest is learning how to walk and getting into EVERYTHING.) It’s definitely going to take some time to figure out our groove, but we made it through today.

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